The following excerpt is from the great book called: Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power by Shakti Parwha Kaur. She is a dear friend and like a grandmother (just turned 80!) since I was a little kid.
"Unfortunately, most parents, including yours and mine, have to depend upon their instincts and the parents they learned from their parents. Most of them are not yogis. They can only guide us within the limits of their own knowledge and experience. Even with the best of intentions, their own neuroses and biases color the way they teach us to deal with ourselves and the world.
It is not only what parents say to us, but what they do and what they are that deeply affects us and forms our basic attitudes toward ourselves and everyone else. We in turn pass along this legacy to our children, consciously or unconsciously.
Your first teacher in this school of life is your mother, second is your father, third is the environment (relatives, school teachers, friends), and finally, the forth is your spiritual teacher whose job it is to correct any misconceptions you received from the first three
Your first teacher is your mother. From the 120th day following conception (it is on your 120th day that the soul actually enters the womb) through the first three years of life, your mother’s influence dominates. She is the primary, powerful, most compelling shaper of the attitudes, habits, prejudices, relationships, and self-images that usually stay with you for the rest of your life. For better or for worse, your mother’s influence is almost indelible. The umbilical cord lasts well beyond the womb. The seeds of growing up with fear of failure, or fear of success, are planted during these early years.
Your second teacher is your father. From age three to eight, his impact predominates. He is the male figure (or absence thereof) who supplies the example, the role model for a son. Dad is the archetype to imitate, to love, or to hate. Father personifies "man." For a daughter, daddy or poppa is the standard which she will compare every other man she ever meets, for better for for worse.
RELATIVES and FRIENDS
The third teacher enters our consciousness at about age eight, in the form of brothers and sisters, relatives, neighbors, teachers, friends. They take on a major role of influence in our lives. Peer pressure rears its ugly head, and continues to grow stronger until it becomes enormous during the teen-age years. Of course given ideal circumstances, peer pressure can be useful, supportive, and can encourage positive growth, but in most instances, it has the opposite effect.
The forth teacher is your spiritual teacher. Most people born in the West don’t really know what a "spiritual teacher" is. We suffer from a collective cultural deficiency, i.e., lack of education about the nature and function of a spiritual teacher and the necessity and important of this relationship in our lives.
Who does think he is. He has had the actual experience of confirming his identity beyond question. His mission in life is to help other people achieve that same experience. And when your soul leaves the body, he’s there to help you make the transition. He works more in the non-physical planes than on the physical.
When you go mountain climbing, you hire a guide – someone who knows the way and the technology to get you to the top without falling and breaking your neck. He tells you where to step. You have the choice of following his instructions or not. You have that same choice on your spiritual path. Your spiritual teacher is like the rope with the hook on one end that you can safely climb up on, because it’s anchored on the top. He offers himself as that rope. You have to project a link to it from your heart and then hold on! He takes on the weight of you and your karma as well as that of all the others he is helping reach the same destination. That link is never broken by the teacher, but the student has the option to let go at anytime, and many do. It is that link of the mind and heart which we create with our teacher that enables him to help us free ourselves from our past, from our pain, from our patterns of fear, jealousy, greed, and anger, which cause us so much suffering and keep us trapped in our lower consciousness. Yogi Bhajan is my spiritual teacher.
Yogi Bhajan describes the student-teacher relationship: "Like a hammer and a chisel with a stone: when they meet, the sparks fly."
The relationship of a student to a spiritual teacher has to be described in analogies, because it is fundamentally so different from any other relationship you have. The relationship is not between personalities, although to the student it can appear to be!
A spiritual teacher is like a forklift who has to come down to earth, pick you up and lift you to the height of his level of consciousness. When he meets you, how you perceive him depends on your degree of consciousness. He can play whatever role you need in order for you to evolve.
TIME IS A TEACHER TOO
Life is a school. We can choose: We can either learn our lessons in the hands of Time or from a Teacher. Our spiritual teacher acts as a catalyst to accelerate the learning process. He saves us time (perhaps even lifetimes). He doesn’t necessarily make life easier, but he makes our growth as a spiritual being the main focus. He challenges us to fulfill our highest potential. He doesn’t, and isn’t supposed to, solve our problems for us, because that is OUR job. He gives us the tools and teaches us how to use them to cope with all the things we must face. He can suggest and recommend, but he cannot make our choices for us.
In this Aquarian Age, it is no longer adequate to know about something, we have to experience it. A spiritual teacher is not a preacher. Lots of people can give fabulous lecture and quote plenty of scripture. A spiritual teacher gives you an experience.